Victoria’s transfer system ‘imploded’

Kerri Carr

VIEW VIDEOS»

Dionne Fenton and Kevin Pope addressed Annual Conference about the Victorian education system.

The ability of Victorian schools to determine their staffing mix has caused the state’s transfer system to “implode”, Annual Conference was told on June 30.

This description of Victoria's experience came from Kevin Pope, the principal at Meadow Heights Primary School and Primary Convenor of the Australian Education Union (Victoria Branch) Principal Class Association.

Bacchus Marsh Secondary College principal and Australian Education Union (Victoria Branch) Principal Class Association Executive member Dionne Fenton also addressed Annual Conference. She explained that if you have a lot of expert teachers — from the top classroom teacher classification — on staff, it impacts on your school’s budget, diminishing your ability to employ additional teachers.

“Some schools will only ever look at graduate teachers,” Ms Fenton said. “There is some ability as a school to advertise for graduate only positions, a very limited number, but a lot of schools will advertise positions and then only shortlist graduate teachers.

“I have a lot of expert teachers in the 35-plus category with a good 20 to 30 years left of teaching. What ability do they have to transfer?” she asked.

 Watch Mr Pope’s speech in full at http://youtu.be/YwEujHFivhY.

Watch Ms Fenton's speech in full at http://youtu.be/SyNJF6zun3k.

 


Warnings from Victoria on devolution

Don’t get on the devolution train, a Victorian principal warned delegates at Annual Conference.

“I don’t want you guys to get on this train. It isn’t worth getting on,” Meadow Heights Primary School principal and Primary Convenor of the Australian Education Union (Victoria Branch) Principal Class Association Kevin Pope said.

The Victorian education system has been devolving responsibilities to schools for almost 20 years. Mr Pope suggested that principal associations in Victoria should have said “yes” to infrastructure support inter-dependency and “no” to being independent, “taking the money and having the power”.

He said principals in a devolved system were not leaders, only managers.

“We don’t shape and challenge the change, we just respond to it. You want your bank manager to do that and you want your police officer to do that, but you don’t want educational leaders to do that. You want educational leaders to lead and develop new narratives and to give new success to kids and to have a different plan for them, if that’s what they need.”

Mr Pope said if devolution “wasn’t so dangerous, it would be laughable”. He added, “There’s no research around that [suggests] being responsible for just about everything in a primary school or in a secondary school makes any difference. But what it does take you away from… our core purpose.”

Devolving responsibility

Victorian schools are responsible for the selection of teachers and support staff, and are able to decide on their own mix and level of leadership and teaching positions. A long list of accountability requirements, once addressed by the education system, now require a school response. These include facilities management, operating tenders and staff selection. Costs are borne by the school budget.

Bacchus Marsh Secondary College principal and Australian Education Union (Victoria branch) Principal Class Association Executive member Dionne Fenton noted there was an ongoing reduction in external resources and a growing expectation that schools would cover the deficit.